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Minotauros routed by Wings 10-1

Ryan Ladika/MDN Minotauros captain Jack Westlund, pictured from Minot's April 22 contest against Aberdeen, scored the lone goal in a 10-1 defeat to the Wings Friday night.

The final road tip of the 2020-21 regular season began with a thud Friday night, as the Minot Minotauros fell to the first-place Aberdeen Wings 10-1 in the campaign’s penultimate game.

The Friday matchup marked the sixth time since the beginning of March the two squads faced off, with Aberdeen holding a 3-2-0-0 record in that span and having won eight of 10 meetings in the season series overall.

With Minot needing a single point, or a Minnesota Wilderness defeat at the paws of the Bismarck Bobcats, to clinch the third seed in the NAHL’s central division, the representatives from the Magic City turned once again to starting goaltender Keenan Rancier for his 43rd appearance of the season.

Rancier entered the night Aberdeen matched the Minotauros between the pipes with their stingy starter Jake Sibell and his league-best .951 save percentage in his 45 previous games.

The Minotauros got off to a hot start and potted the game’s first goal just 78 seconds into the affairs. From the right corner in his own zone, Ross Roloson flicked the puck almost the length of the ice and off a Wings skater on the opposite end.

Tyler Kostelecky quickly took the zone and prevented Aberdeen from clearing the puck out of the zone, snagging it himself on the right end of the zone and dishing a cross-ice pass to Jack Westlund.

The Minotauros’ captain had a wide open net as Sibell was late sliding back over, and he did not miss his chance. Westlund wristed the puck past the Wings’ netminder and gave Minot the early lead on its first shot of the game.

Westlund’s score gave him 12 on the season to that point, and represented his fifth point in his last four games dating back to his three-assist evening May 1 against Austin.

The wheels came off in Minot’s defensive zone following the early goal, as Aberdeen would go on to record ten unanswered goals, including four scores from Natan Vertes to give him his third hat trick of the season and second against the Minotauros.

Minot will have one more regular season tune-up before the playoffs, with puck drop scheduled for 7:15 p.m. against Aberdeen in the regular-season finale.

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